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Two weeks of rest in his Philadelphia home, in delightful reunion with his mother and sisters, and two weeks more devoted to the banquets and parties with which his rejoicing friends there and in New York celebrated his return, passed quickly. He had now to prepare to say good-bye again. For overtures of such a flattering character had been made to him while in England to return and give a series of performances in the principal British theatres, that he had accepted them, and was engaged to be there early in October. The desire, however, after his long absence, to see him on the stage was so general, and was urged so eagerly, that he determined to appear for a few nights. Accordingly, he played the parts of Damon, Othello, and Spartacus for five nights in the Chestnut Street Theatre, in Philadelphia, and the same parts, with the addition of Lear, in the Park Theatre, in New York. The crowd and the excitement on the opening night were almost unprecedented, all the passages to the house being blocked with applicants two hours before the rising of the curtain. At the first glimpse of the actor in his stately senatorial garb, the multitude that filled the entire auditorium with a packed mass of faces rose as by one impulse and hailed him with deafening applause, kept up until it seemed as if it was not to end. He had never played better, by general consent, than he did this night. And when the play closed, and the enthusiastic ovation which had saluted his entrance was repeated, he certainly had every reason to feel in truth what he expressed in words:
"Ladies and gentlemen, for this warm peal of hands and hearts I have only strength in my present exhausted state to say, I thank you. It convinces me that neither time nor distance has been able to alienate from me your kind regards. I am unable
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 to speak what I wish; but I can sincerely say that you make me proud this evening. And the remembrance of the cordial greeting, after no common absence, given me here in this city of my birth and my affection, will go down with me to my latest hour as one of the happiest scenes of my professional life."
A similar reception, only, if possible, still more flattering in the vastness of the throng and the fervor of the tributes, awaited him in New York. Box tickets were sold at auction for twenty-five dollars each,—a fact to which there had not at that time been anything like a parallel known in this country. For his six performances he received three thousand dollars, and the profit of the manager was estimated at six thousand dollars. The public greeted his strong points with a warmth which seemed to show that their admiration had grown during his absence, and the critics spoke of an evident improvement in his acting,—that it was less boisterous and more thoughtful than formerly. Called out at the conclusion of the play, Othello, on the occasion of his farewell, he alluded with deep emotions to the night, some ten years before, when he had made his first appearance before a New York audience. Then, a mere youth, just emerging from severe hardships, and still oppressed by poverty and a dark prospect, with scarcely a friend, he had tremblingly ventured to enact the part of Othello for the benefit of a distressed brother-actor. The generous approbation then given him had lent a new zeal to his ambition and a new strength to his motives. From that hour his course had been one of unbroken prosperity, for which he desired to return his most heartfelt thanks to his countrymen, and to assure them that he would do his best not to dishonor them in the mother-country, to which he was then bound. "I shall carry with me," he added, "an indelible remembrance of your kindness; and I hope that the recollection will be mutual, so that I may say, with the divine Shakspeare,—
'Our separation so abides and flies
That yon, remaining here, yet go with me,
And I, hence fleeting, still remain with you.'"
The audience responded to his speech with tempestuous huzzas, and he withdrew, carrying this flattering scene fresh in his memory as he set sail for his courageous enterprise on the other side of the sea.
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It was a courageous and somewhat ominous adventure. For it is to be remembered that the relationships of England and the United States were very different in 1836 from what they are in our day. The memories of the Revolutionary war and of the war of 1812 were still keen and bitter; and the feelings of intellectual inferiority and literary vassalage to the mother-country among the Americans engendered a sense of wounded pride or irritable jealousy excessively sensitive to British criticism, which, on the other hand, was generally marked by a tone of complacent arrogance or condescending patronage. No American actor, at least none of any note, had yet appeared on the boards in England. All such international favors were on the other side,—and they had been most numerous and long-continued. The illustrious Cooper, an Englishman by birth and education, though so long domesticated in this country both as citizen and actor as to be almost considered an American, had been ignominiously hooted down on the most famous stage in London amidst opprobrious cries of "Away with the Yankee! Send him back!" What reception now would be vouchsafed to an American tragedian, fresh from nature and the woods of the West, and all untrained in the methods of the schools, who should dare essay to rival the glorious traditions of old Drury Lane within her own walls?—this was a question which caused many wise heads to shake with misgivings, and might well have deterred any less fearless spirit than that of Forrest from putting it to the test. But he believed, obvious as the antipathies and jealousies between the two countries were, that the fellow-feeling and the love of fair play were far stronger. In a speech delivered in his native city the evening before his departure, he expressed himself thus:
"The engagement which I am about to fulfil in London was not of my seeking. While I was in England I was repeatedly importuned with solicitations, and the most liberal offers were made to me. I finally consented, not for my own sake, for my ambition is satisfied with the applauses of my own countrymen, but partly in compliance with the wishes of a number of American friends, and partly to solve a doubt which is entertained by many of our citizens, whether Englishmen would receive an American actor with the same favor which is here extended to them. This doubt, so far as I have had an opportunity of
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 judging, is, I think, without foundation. During my residence in England, I found among the English people the most unbounded hospitality, and the warmest affection for my beloved country and her institutions. With this impression, I have resolved to present to them an American tragedy, supported by the humble efforts of the individual who stands before you. If I fail—I fail. But, whatever may be the result, the approbation of that public which first stamped the native dramatist and actor will ever be my proudest recollection."
Of all the friends to whom Forrest bade adieu, not one beside was so dear to him as Leggett. The heart-ties between them had been multiplied, enriched, and tightened by unwearied mutual acts of kindness and service, and a thousand congenial interchanges of soul in intimate hours when the world was shut out and their bosoms were opened to each other without disguise or reserve. The letter here added speaks for itself:
"Office of the Evening Post,
"New York, Sept. 19th, 1836.
"Dear Madam,—I had the pleasure of accompanying your son Edwin yesterday as far as Sandy Hook, and seeing him safely on his way for Liverpool, with a fine breeze, in a fine ship, and with a fine set of fellow-passengers. He was accompanied down the bay by a large number of his friends, who, on the steamboat parting from the ship, expressed their warm feelings for him in many rounds of loud and hearty cheers. We kept in sight of the vessel till near sundown, by which time she had made a good offing. Andrew Allen had gone on board with his baggage the day previous, and everything was prepared for him in the most comfortable manner. While we were on board the vessel with him, we were invited by the captain to sit down to a collation prepared for the occasion, and had the satisfaction of drinking to his health and prosperous voyage, not only across the Atlantic Ocean, but across the ocean of life also, in a glass of sparkling champagne. It would have given me the most unbounded happiness to have been able to accompany him to Europe, as he desired; but circumstances rendered it impossible for me to gratify that wish. I am with him in heart, however, and shall look most eagerly for the tidings of his safe arrival and triumphant reception.
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 Whatever news I get concerning him which I think may be of interest to you, I shall take pleasure in immediately communicating. Mrs. Leggett bade me remember her most affectionately to you and your daughters, and to say that, should you visit New York at any time during your son's absence, she shall expect you to make her house your home. In this wish I most fully concur. Allow me to assure you, madam, that
"With great respect,
"I am your obed't serv't,
"Wm. Leggett.
"Mrs. Rebecca Forrest."
James K. Paulding, a close and dear friend of Forrest, met him one sunshiny day in New York at the corner of Nassau and Ann Streets, and expostulated with him against going across the sea to play. "Washington," he said, "never went to Europe to gain an immortality. Jackson never went there to extend his fame. Many others of our greatest and most original men never visited the other hemisphere to add lustre to their names. And why should you? Stay here, and build yourself an enduring place in the mind of your own country alone. That is enough for any man!" He spoke with extreme eloquence, heedless of the busy throng who hurried by absorbed in so different a world from that whose prospects kindled the idealistic and ambitious friends. When Forrest was sailing out of the harbor, he recalled these words with strong emotion, and felt for a moment as if he were guilty of a sort of treachery to his own land in thus leaving it. Though the whole incident, as here set down, may appear overstrained, it is a true glimpse of life.
Forrest made his first professional appearance in England in Drury Lane Theatre, on the evening of the 17th of October, 1836, in the rôle of Spartacus, before an audience which crowded the house in every part to its utmost capacity. His great American fame had preceded him, and there was an intense curiosity felt as to the result of his experiment. The solicitude was especially keen among the two or three hundred of his countrymen who were present, and who knew the extreme democratic quality of the play of the Gladiator. The tremendous bursts of applause which his entrance called out soon put an end to all doubt or
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 anxiety. The favor in advance certified by the unanimous and long-continued cheers he confirmed at every step of the performance, and wrought to an extraordinary pitch at the close, when he was recalled before the curtain and greeted with overwhelming plaudits. He returned his thanks for the honor done him, and was loudly applauded when he said he was sure that England and America were joined by the closest good-will, and that the more enlightened portion of their population were superior to any feeling of national jealousy. But on attempting to include the author of the Gladiator in the approving verdict which the audience had given himself, he was interrupted by numerous protests and repeated cries, "Let us see you in some of Shakspeare's characters!"
The Courier of the next morning said,—
"America has at length vindicated her capability of producing a native dramatist of the highest order, whose claims should be unequivocally acknowledged by the Mother Country; and has rendered back some portion of the dramatic debt so long due to us in return for the Cookes, the Keans, the Macreadys, the Knowleses, and the Kembles, whom she has, through a long series of years, seduced, at various times, to her shores,—the so long doubted problem being happily solved by Mr. Edwin Forrest, the American tragedian, who made his first appearance last night on these boards, with a success as triumphant as could have been desired by his most enthusiastic admirers on the other side of the Atlantic. Of the numerous striking situations and touching passages in the play, Mr. Forrest availed himself with great tact, discrimination, and effect; now astounding all eyes and ears by the overwhelming energy of his physical powers, and now subduing all hearts by the pathos of his voice, manner, and expression. The whole weight of the piece rests upon him alone, and nobly does he sustain it. His action is easy, graceful, and varied; and his declamation is perfectly free from the usual stage chant, catchings, and points. Indeed, nature alone seems to have been his only model."
The "Sun" of the same date said,—
"Mr. Edwin Forrest, who has long held the first rank as a tragic actor in America, made his first appearance here last night in a new drama, also of American growth, entitled the Gladiator.
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 The acting of Mr. Forrest as Spartacus was throughout admirable. His very figure and voice were in his favor, the one being strongly muscular, the other replete with a rough music befitting one who in his youth has dwelt, a free barbarian, among the mountains. He electrified his audience; indeed, we have not heard more enthusiastic bursts of applause shake the walls of an English theatre since Othello expired with poor Kean. The great recommendations of Mr. Forrest as a tragedian we take to be strong passion, and equally strong judgment. In the whirlwind of his emotions he never loses sight of self-control. He is the master, not the slave, of his feelings. He appeals to no fastidious coterie for applause; he is not remarkable for the delivery of this or that pretty tinkling poetic passage; still less is he burdened with refined sensibility, which none but the select few can understand; far otherwise; he gives free play to those rough natural passions which are intelligible all the world over. His pathos is equally sincere and unsophisticated. His delivery of the passage,—
'And one day hence,
My darling boy, too, may be fatherless,'—
was marked by the truest and tenderest sensibility. Equally successful was he in that pleasing pastoral idea,—
'And Peace was tinkling in the shepherd's bells,
And singing with the reapers;'
which, had it been written in Claude's days, that great painter would undoubtedly have made the subject of one of his best landscapes.
'Famine shrieked in the empty corn-fields,'—
a striking image, which immediately follows the preceding one, was given by Mr. Forrest with an energy amounting almost to the sublime. Not less impressive was his delivery of
'There are no Gods in heaven,'
which bursts from him when he hears of the murder of his wife and child by the Roman cohorts. Mr. Forrest has made such a hit as has not been made since the memorable 1814, when Edmund Kean burst on England in Shylock. America may well feel proud of him; for though he is not, strictly speaking, what is called a classical actor, yet he has all the energy, all the in
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domitable love of freedom that characterizes the transatlantic world. We say this because there were many republican allusions in the play where the man spoke out quite as much as the actor, if not more. Having seen him in Spartacus, we no longer wonder at his having electrified the New World. A man better fitted by nature and art to sustain such a character, and a character better fitted to turn the heads of a nation which was the other day in arms against England, never appeared on the boards of a theatre. At the fall of the curtain he received such a tempest of approbation as we have not witnessed for years."
The Morning Advertiser said,—
"When to the facts of a new play and a new actor is superadded the circumstance that both the author and the player of the new tragedy are Americans, and the first who ever tempted the intellectual taste of the British public by a representation on the English stage, the crowds which last night surrounded the doors long before they were thrown open are easily accounted for. The applause which Mr. Forrest received on his entrée must have been very cheering to that gentleman. He possesses a countenance well marked and classical; his figure, a model for stage effect, with 'thew and sinew' to boot. His enunciation, which we had anticipated to be characterized by some degree of that patois which distinguishes most Americans, even the best educated, was almost perfect 'to the last recorded syllable,' and fell like music on the ears. We here especially point to the less declamatory passages of the drama; in those portions of it where he threw his whole power of body and soul into the whirlwind, as it were, of his fury, his display of physical strength was prodigious, without 'o'erstepping the modesty of nature.' The inflections of his voice frequently reminded one of Kean in his healthiest days, yet there did not appear the manner of a copyist. He was crowned with loud and unanimous plaudits at least a dozen times during the representation."
The Court Journal gave its judgment thus:
"This chief of American performers is most liberally endowed by nature with all the finest qualities for an actor. With a most graceful and symmetrical person, of more than the ordinary stature, he has a face capable of the sternest as of the nicest delineations of passion, and a voice of deep and earnest power. We
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 have never witnessed a presence more noble and commanding,—one that, at the first moment, challenged greater respect, we may write, admiration. As an actor, Mr. Forrest is fervent, passionate, and active: there is no child's play in whatever he does; but in the most serious, as in the slightest development of feeling, he puts his whole heart into the matter, and carries us away with him in either the subtlety or the strength of his emotion. With powers evidently enabling him to outroar a whirlwind, he is never extravagant,—he is never of 'Ercles' vein; his passion is always from the heart, and never from the lungs. His last two scenes were splendidly acted, from the strength, the self-abandonment of the performer; he looked and moved as if he could have cut down a whole cohort, and died like a Hercules. The reception of Mr. Forrest was most cordial; and the applause bestowed upon him throughout the play unbounded. At the conclusion of the tragedy he was called for, and most rapturously greeted."
The Times described the figure, face, and voice of the actor, gave a long abstract of the play, and said,—
"He played with his whole heart, and seemed to be so strongly imbued with the part that every tone and gesture were perfectly natural, and full of that fire and spirit which, engendered by true feeling, carry an audience along with the performer. He made a powerful impression on the audience, and must be regarded as an able performer who to very considerable skill in his profession adds the attraction of a somewhat novel and much more spirited style of playing than any other tragic actor now on our stage."
The following extract is from the Atlas:
"If we were to estimate Mr. Forrest's merits by his performance of the Gladiator, we should, probably, underrate, or, perhaps, mistake the true character of his genius. The very qualities which render him supreme in such a part would, if he possessed no other requisites, unfit him for those loftier conceptions that constitute the highest efforts of the stage. It would be impossible to produce a more powerful performance, or one in all respects more just and complete, than his representation of the moody savage Thracian. But nature has given him peculiar advantages which harmonize with the demands of the part, and which, in almost any other character in the range of tragedy, would either encumber the delineation or be of no avail. His figure is cast
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 in the proportions of the Farnese Hercules. The development of the muscles, indeed, rather exceeds the ideal of strength, and, in its excess, the beauty of symmetrical power is in some degree sacrificed. His head and neck are perfect models of grandeur in the order to which they belong. His features are boldly marked, full of energy and expression, and, although not capable of much variety, they possess a remarkable tone of mental vigor. His voice is rich and deep, and susceptible of extraordinary transitions, which he employs somewhat too frequently as the transitions of feeling pass over his spirit. The best way, perhaps, of describing its varieties is to say that it reminded us occasionally of Kean, Vandenhoff, and Wallack, but not as they would be recalled by one who, in the dearth of his own resources, imitated them for convenience, but by one in whom such resemblances are natural and unpremeditated. Mr. Forrest's action is bold, unconscious, and diversified; and the predominant sentiment it inspires is that of athletic grace. In the part of Spartacus all these characteristics were brought out in the most favorable points of view; and the performance, exhausting from its length and its internal force, was sustained to the close with undiminished power. There is certainly no actor on the English stage who could have played it with a tithe of Mr. Forrest's ability."
In response to the invitation or challenge to appear in some of the great Shakspearean rôles, Forrest appeared many nights successively in Othello, Macbeth, and Lear, and in them all was crowned with most decisive and flattering triumphs. The praise of him by the press was generous, and its chorus scarcely broken by the few dissenting voices, whose tone plainly betrayed an animus of personal hostility. A few examples of the newspaper notices may fitly be cited,—enough to give a fair idea of the general impression he made.
The Globe, of October 25th:
"Mr. Forrest selected as his second character the fiery Othello, 'who loved not wisely, but too well.' There was something nobly daring in this flight, so soon, too, after he whose voice still dwells in our ears had passed from among us. To essay before an English audience any character in which Edmund Kean was remembered was itself no trifling indication of that self-confidence which, when necessary, true genius can manifest. To make
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 that attempt in Othello was indeed daring. And nobly, we feel proud to say, did the performance bear out the promise. In the Senate scene his colloquial voice told well in the celebrated address to the Seniors of Venice. He did not speak as if the future evils of his life had even then cast their shadows upon him. The calm equability of the triumphant general and successful lover pervaded his performance throughout the first two acts, with the exception of the scene of the drunken brawl in the second, where he first gave token of the fiery elements within him. The third act was a splendid presentment throughout. He had evidently studied the character with the judgment of a scholar, 'and a ripe and good one:' each shade of the jealous character of the easy Moor, from the first faint guessings at his tempter's meaning to the full conviction of his wife's dishonesty, was brought out with the touch of a master-hand, and embodied with a skill equalling that of any actor whom we have seen, and far, very far superior to the manner in which any other of our living performers could attempt it. This third act alone would have placed Mr. Forrest in the foremost rank of his profession had he never done anything else; and so his kindling audience seemed to feel, as much in the deep watching silence of their attention as in the tremendous plaudits which hailed what on the stage are technically called 'the points' he made.
"In the two succeeding acts he was equally great in the passages which called forth the burning passions of his fiery soul; but we shall not at present particularize; where all was good it would be difficult, and we have already nearly run through the dictionary of panegyric. In accordance with a burst of applause such as seldom follows the fall of the curtain, Othello was announced for repetition on Wednesday and Friday."
The commendation of the London Sun was still stronger:
"Mr. Forrest last night made his appearance here in the arduous character of Othello. The experiment was a bold one, but was completely successful. We entertain a vivid recollection of Kean in this part; we saw his Moor when the great actor was in the meridian vigor of his powers, and also when he was in his decline and could do justice only to the more subdued and pathetic parts of the character; and even with these recollections on our mind, we feel ourselves justified in saying that Mr. For
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rest's Othello, if here and there inferior in execution to Kean's, was in conception far superior. There is an elevation of thought and sentiment,—a poetic grandeur,—a picturesqueness, if we may use such an expression, in Mr. Forrest's notion of the character, which Kean could never reach. The one could give electrical effect to all its more obvious points, turn to admirable account all that lay on its surface; the other sounds its depths,—turns it inside out,—apprehends it in a learned and imaginative spirit, and shows us not merely the fiery, generous warrior, the creature of impulse, but the high-toned, chivalrous Moor; lofty and dignified in his bearing, and intellectual in his nature,—such a Moor, in short, as we read of in the old Spanish chronicles of Granada,—and who perpetrates an act of murder not so much from the headstrong, animal promptings of revenge, as from an idea that he is offering up a solemn and inevitable sacrifice to justice. In the earlier portion of the character Mr. Forrest was rather too drawling and measured in his delivery; his address to the Senators was judicious, but not quite familiar enough; it should have been more colloquial. It was evident, however, that throughout this scene the actor was laboring under constraint; he had yet to establish himself with his audience, and was afraid of committing himself prematurely. Henceforth he may dismiss this apprehension; for he has proved that he is, beyond all question, the first tragedian of the age.... We have spoken of this gentleman's Othello in high terms of praise, but have not commended it beyond its deserts. In manly and unaffected vigor; in terrific force of passion, where such a display is requisite; but, above all, in heartfelt tenderness, it is fully equal to Kean's Othello; in sustained dignity, and in the absence of all stage-trick and undue gesticulation, it is superior. Perhaps here and there it was a little too elaborate; but this is a trivial blemish, which practice will soon remedy. On the whole, Mr. Forrest is the most promising tragedian that has appeared in our days. He has, evidently, rare intellectual endowments; a noble and commanding presence; a countenance full of varying expression; a voice mellow, flexible, and in its undertones exquisitely tender, and a discretion that never fails him. If any one can revive the half-extinct taste for the drama, he is the man."
The Carlton Chronicle said,—
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"It is impossible that any actor could, in person, bearing, action, and utterance, better fulfil your fair-ideal of the noble Moor. All the passages of the part evincing Will and Power are delivered after a manner to leave the satisfied listener no faculty except that of admiration. His bursts of passion are terrifically grand. There is no grimace,—no exaggeration. They are terrible in their downright earnestness and apparent truth. Nothing could be more heart-thrilling than the noble rage with which he delivered the well-known passage,—
'I had rather be a toad,
And live upon the vapor of a dungeon,
Than keep a corner in the thing I love,
For others' uses;'
nothing more glorious than the burst in which he volleyed forth the following passage, suppressed by the barbarians of our theatres,—
'Like to the Pontic Sea,
Whose icy current and compulsive course
Ne'er feels retiring ebb, but keeps due on
To the Propontic and the Hellespont;
Even so my bloody thoughts, with violent pace,
Shall ne'er look back, ne'er ebb to humble love,
Till that a capable and wide revenge
Swallow them up.'
Throughout the part, as he enacted it, there were several new readings, in the player's phrase. They were all good,—they all conveyed to us, who love Shakspeare, new ideas. Forrest, apart from his playing, is no common man. In many scenes of the play, in which it was the fashion to rant, Forrest contented himself with the appropriate display of dignified and quiet power. This was beyond praise."
The following extract is from the notice in the John Bull:
"It is where Iago first attempts to rouse the jealousy of Othello, and, having created the spark, succeeds in fanning it to a consuming fire, that Mr. Forrest may be said to have been truly great. Slowly he appeared to indulge the suspicion of his wife's infidelity; in silent agony the conviction seemed to be creeping upon him,—his iron sinews trembling with dreadful and conflicting emotions,—rapid as thought were his denunciations; and, with all the weakness of woman, he again relapsed into tenderness,—pain
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had a respite, and hope a prospect. Then came his fearful and startling challenge to Iago, ending,—
'If thou dost slander her, and torture me,
Never pray more: abandon all remorse;
On horror's head horrors accumulate:
Do deeds to make heaven weep, all earth amazed;
For nothing canst thou to damnation add
Greater than that.'
"The almost savage energy with which this passage was delivered produced an indescribable effect. Three long and distinct rounds of applause testified how highly the audience was delighted with this master-effort; and the most prejudiced must have been convinced that they were witnessing the acting of no ordinary man."
The critique in the Albion was a notable one:
"Mr. Forrest made his first appearance on our boards on Monday last, in the part of Othello. Mr. Forrest possesses a fine person, an excellent thing in either man or woman; but, though this has been much dwelt upon by the London critics, it is but a very minor affair when speaking of such a man as Mr. Forrest. He carries himself with exceeding grace and dignity, and his tread is easy and majestic: he dresses with taste and magnificence. The picture which he presented of the Moor was one of the most perfect which we have witnessed. He gave us to see, like Desdemona, 'Othello's visage in his mind,' of which he furnished us with a beautiful and highly-finished portrait. Not content with acting each scene well, he gave us a consistent transcript of the whole matter. Each succeeding scene was in strict keeping with those that had preceded it, showing that the actor had grasped the whole plot from beginning to end, and that, from commencement to catastrophe, he had embodied himself into strict identity with the person represented. His early scenes were distinguished by a quiet and calm dignity of demeanor, which, concomitant with the deepest tenderness of feeling, and a high tone of manliness, he seems to have conceived the basis of the Moor's character. In his address to the Senate, this dignified self-possession, and a sense of what was due to himself, he made particularly conspicuous. As the interest of the tragedy advanced, we saw, with exceeding pleasure, that Mr. Forrest was determined to de
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pend for success upon the precept set forth by Shakspeare, 'To hold the mirror up to nature.' With proper confidence in his own powers, he disdained to overstep the prescribed bound for the sake of producing effects equally at variance with nature and heterodox to good taste. In the scene where he quells the drunken brawl, his acting throughout was strikingly impressive of reality. Some of his ideas were novel, and beautifully accordant w............
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